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The Jerk (1979)

 -  Comedy  -  14 December 1979 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 36,265 users  
Reviews: 109 user | 54 critic

An idiotic man struggles to make it through life on his own in St. Louis.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Navin / Cat Juggler (as Pig Eye Jackson also)
...
...
...
Richard Ward ...
...
Taj
...
...
...
...
Helena Carroll ...
...
Elvira (as Ren Wood)
...
Sonny Terry ...
Brownie McGhee ...
Blues Singer (as Brownie McGee)
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Storyline

Navin is an idiot. He grew up in Mississippi as adopted son of a black family but on his 18th birthday he feels he wants to discover the rest of the world and sets out to St. Louis. There everyone exploits his naivety, but then a simple invention brings him a fortune. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a poor black sharecropper's son who never dreamed he was adopted. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Easy Money  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The gigantic house shown in the film is the infamous Sheik Al-Fassi mansion in Beverly Hills, the first time the residence appeared in a major motion picture. The property was selected over about half a dozen contenders which included the former Harold Lloyd and Marion Davies estates. The tacky rooms shown in the film were actually shot in the mansion thanks to its cavernous size rooms. One reason this abode was chosen was because its very large and spacious rooms meant any filming done in one part of the dwelling allowed great vista shots of adjoining areas at the same time. The mansion also had its own basement disco where the dance scene was filmed. The thirty-eight room mansion no longer exists; it was torched by an arsonist in 1980, the DVD states that the building was demolished with the site becoming a vacant lot. See more »

Goofs

When the madman is shooting at Navin at the service station, when the cans are shot at, the holes are formed from inside the can not from the shots fired at the cans. You can clearly see the aluminum fold outward from the holes in the cans. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Navin R. Johnson: Huh? I am *not* a bum. I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends, and... uh... my thermos. Huh? My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Pig Eye Jackson - Cat Juggler (Steve Martin) See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Martin Sheen/David Bowie (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

You Belong To Me
Sung by Bernadette Peters and Steve Martin
Music by 'Lee David'
Lyric by Billy Rose
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Overwhelmingly and brilliantly funny with genius throwaways.
24 December 2003 | by (Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

To enter the realm inhabited by Martin's blissfully original caricatures, you must first be tested for wit, intellect and an innocent revelry in life itself. If you qualify, you will be led on to a rollercoaster of oxygen-sapping gags, stupendously clever motifs, brilliant performances and an absolutely fabulous script. There are gags here so new and surprising that to try and emulate them could only court failure. The joy of true love accompanied by him on the ukelele and on the last stanza by her on the........ trumpet: and a beautiful little song. Is it the humour or the innocence brings a tear to your eye? Don't call the dog "life saver", call him "s***head" - and for evermore, he is. The white man who is distraught to discover that he is not black. The goodbye note and Martin reading bits of words as they are washed away. The seminal "all I need" scene which is milked to the point of asphixia. The Jerk is simply the funniest most understatedly clever movie ever produced. There has simply never been anything this good, nor will there ever be. The message is simple and is a very old one: the buffoon as saint. From Bottom in Shakespeare, to Tristram Shandy, to Chaplin, to the genius understatement of Cary Grant, to Norman Wisdom: they have all touched on and come tantalisingly close, but they have all lacked one ingredient, an ingrediant calledSteve Martin. Like Orson Welles and Kane or Frederick Forsyth and the Jackal or Men at Work and Land Down Under, Martin has played his best shot first, unfettered, undisciplined, unconstrained genius. Let us all be better, brighter, cleverer and genuinely funnier by being the jerk. And if that's too frightening, just watch it.


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